What Are The Best Mood Lifting, Feel Good Foods?
Probiotics and fermented foods. They’re vital for mood, immunity, digestion & energy.
One of the most common questions our dietitians get is what supplements should I be taking? There is one supplement our dietitians do recommend across the board. And that’s probiotics.
A high potency probiotic supplement is essential to feeling good.
Probiotics. What are they?
Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “live microorganisms, which, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Because of these benefits, probiotics are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria. In case, you’re still confused, you are the host.
What is the gut microbiome and how does it affect one’s digestive health?
A complex ecosystem of bacteria develops after birth and lives in the intestinal tract. The gut microbiome contains both “good” and “bad” bacteria. When the balance is tipped toward “bad” bacteria, which can be due to lack of sleep, stress, etc it may affect digestive health and overall well-being. Consuming certain probiotics can help this whole gut situation by providing a regular source of “friendly” bacteria to the GI tract, improving how it functions.
What are some of the benefits of probiotics?
It’s probably not news to you that consuming good bacteria, aka probiotics, can improve GUT health. But these beneficial bugs have been linked to so much more than just better digestion.
Optimizing your gut with probiotics can also help boost your mood and energy levels, reduce inflammation and cravings, and support a healthy immune system. In fact, about 80 percent of your body’s immune tissue is located in the gut so it’s heavily influenced by the bacteria living there.
Should I take a probiotic supplement?
Our dietitians recommend that most people take a probiotic as insurance for good gut health. If you have specific concerns (immunity, constipation, diarrhoea etc.) make sure to take a probiotic with a specific strain that has been proven to aid that condition.
The best probiotics have many different STRAINS (like 10-16). It’s not just about the total number, but the different kinds of bacteria that are in there. A large variety better mimics what we naturally have. Some strains are heat resistant and can stay outside of the fridge and still be an excellent choice. Finally, it’s probably a good idea to switch brands every few months, to get a greater variety of bacteria. There are many brands you can try, just be sure that you see 10-16 different strains….and pay attention to which brand makes you FEEL the best. In addition to taking a high potency probiotic supplement, consume fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha.
Now let’s chat about the health benefits of fermented foods…
First of all, our dietitians recommend eating at least one fermented food per day. Similar to canning, fermentation is a process that helps to preserve foods. When foods are fermented, bacteria or yeast are introduced to break sugars down into simpler molecules such as alcohols and acids. This process can be as simple as placing vegetables in water with salt, or a starter culture is used.
Breaking down the food does two things:
It releases flavour and introduces tons of good microorganisms which can contribute to maintaining a balanced, healthy gut.
Fermenting also begins the process of digestion before the food hits your lips, which can make the nutrients in your foods more available for absorption. You can ingest huge amounts of nutrients, but unless you actually absorb them, they’re useless. When you improve digestion, you improve absorption.
Probiotics and fermented foods boost your MOOD and lower ANXIETY.
Some scientists call the gut the SECOND BRAIN and for good reason…90 percent of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that balances our mood, is produced there.
A study of 700 students discovered that those who ate fermented foods regularly had less social anxiety.
An earlier study found that women who consumed probiotic-rich foods every day for a month were better able to keep their moods and emotions in check than the control group.
We also read a super interesting article in a biology journal. The main gist was: Blame your GUT BACTERIA for your food cravings.
The Background: Bad bacteria in our gut may cause cravings in powerful ways. They affect our mood, change our taste buds, influence our hormones & hijack signals to our brain. Cravings are not just a matter of willpower. Instead, cravings may be a direct order from the army of bad bugs in our gut. The Fix: Build a better army of GOOD bacteria in your gut by adding a daily dose of healthy probiotic powerhouses.
Here are some of our dietitian’s favourite fermented foods:
• Yogurt Bowl. We like to put yoghurt (fermented milk) in a bowl w/ cinnamon roasted veggies like butternut squash and drizzle nut butter on top. Tastes like dessert.
• Easy Miso Dressing. We mix miso paste (fermented soybeans) w/ almond butter & warm water. Perfect for salads & stir fries.
• Sauerkraut Shot. We add sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) to our morning scrambled eggs.
It’s really important to buy unpasteurized versions since pasteurization kills good bacteria. A brand we love is Farmhouse Culture.
• Kombucha. We like to drink kombucha (fermented tea) if we’re craving something bubbly like soda.
Secrets out. We think it’s safe to say fermented foods and probiotics are key to wellness and living your best life. They aid in digestion, boost our immunity, bust cravings and improve our overall mood and energy levels. Again – consider investing in a high potency probiotic supplement. Some of our favourite brands: dr formulated once daily by garden of life, just thrive, and enviromedica.
See Jessica Ann Dogert, RDN here discussing nutrition & diet topics close to her heart:
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